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Natural and working lands—forests, wetlands, coastal, and agricultural lands—provide many benefits, including supporting key economic sectors, enhancing community resilience to hazards such as fires and floods, and contributing to climate mitigation by storing large amounts of carbon. This guide is aimed at states interested in developing plans for conserving, managing, and restoring these lands to preserve and enhance their benefits. The guide uses examples from North Carolina’s recently completed Natural and Working Lands Action Plan to walk through the planning process, helpful resources, and the tracking of plan implementation.
As the climate changes, marshes on the Atlantic coast will migrate inland and cause even more carbon to be released into the atmosphere, a new modeling study finds. Researchers developed a spatial model for predicting habitat and carbon changes due to SLR in six mid-Atlantic U.S. states likely to face coastal habitat loss. The modeling runs looked at land changes in coastal areas through the year 2104 in scenarios that predict intermediate sea level rise. In 16 out of the 19 runs of the model, inland marsh migration converted land from a net carbon sink to a net carbon source.
Tracking the Benefits of Natural & Working Lands in the United States: Dataset Evaluation and Readiness Assessment
Natural and working lands (NWL) in the United States provide many benefits, including food, climate mitigation, recreational opportunities, jobs, and many more. There is currently no coordinated approach in the United States to track how provision of these benefits is changing over time. This project begins to fill this gap by identifying datasets that can be used to track the status and trends of NWL benefits (i.e., ecosystem services), assessing their readiness for use in the near-term, and highlighting data gaps and limitations that need to be addressed for a national assessment.
This Phase II report of the GEMS project identifies metrics available to monitor the social and economic outcomes of a wide variety of coastal projects funded in the Gulf, using ESLMs to illustrate how these projects’ impacts cascade through the biophysical system to result in social and economic outcomes. Phase II expands the focus to assess socioeconomic metrics for 16 coastal project types, including habitat restoration, recreational enhancement, and water quality improvement projects.
Exploring the Use of Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models to Account for the Benefits of Public Lands: An Example from National Forest Planning in the United States
A shared understanding of the benefits and tradeoffs to people from alternative land management strategies is critical to successful decision-making for managing public lands and fostering shared stewardship. This study describes an approach for identifying and monitoring the types of resource benefits and tradeoffs considered in National Forest planning in the United States under the 2012 Planning Rule and demonstrates the use of tools for conceptualizing the production of ecosystem services and benefits from alternative land management strategies.
Mapping Ecosystem Services for the Southeast United States: Conservation and Restoration Priorities for Water Purification
This methods brief focuses on water purification by natural land cover, which removes nonpoint-source pollutants from runoff water before they reach waterways. This analysis maps natural land cover within the likely flowpaths of water from agricultural areas to waterways.
Ecosystem accounts, as formalized by the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA EEA), have been compiled in a number of countries, yet there have been few attempts to develop them for the U.S. We explore the potential for U.S. ecosystem accounting by compiling ecosystem extent, condition, and ecosystem services supply and use accounts for a 10-state region in the Southeast. The pilot accounts address air quality, water quality, biodiversity, carbon storage, recreation, and pollination for selected years from 2001 to 2015.
Oyster reef restoration influences the ecological and social systems to create outcomes important to people. These effects are illustrated in an ecosystem service logic model (ESLM), and the evidence library summarizes the scientific evidence for each relationship shown in the ESLM. The evidence library summarizes the scientific evidence for the biological, ecological, and socio-economic effects of oyster reef restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.
This project explores how these non-USFS models could be combined with existing USFS models to provide a fuller analysis of ecosystem services outcomes from different management scenarios. We used an ecosystem service conceptual model as a framework to examine the utility of currently available predictive models for quantifying the effects of fire and timber management on ecosystem services and socioeconomic outcomes.
Mapping Ecosystem Services for the Southeast United States: Conservation Priorities for Open Space Recreation Access
This methods brief focuses on access to recreational open space, which is a key component of mental health and well-being. This analysis maps the supply of publicly accessible open spaces relative to where people live. Regional priority areas for the creation of new open space through conservation are identified based on a metric representing the number of people who would benefit from new recreational open space if it were created in that area.